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Visiting Argos

No, it doesn't look like much

I normally visit antiques shops looking for cameras; you never know what you fill find there. There’s quite a few quality levels when we’re talking antique shops and that one was more an indoors junkyard than a shop; these are the kind of shops I normally like, but hell, all that stuff looked like it had been dug up from a dump.

The ‘camera section’ was a glass cupboard filled with trashed brownies, 8mm cameras, some rusty SLRs and three or four folding 6x9s. When I took a close look I could not believe what I saw: an Argos. The salesman was a royal pain in the ass: he had the theory that folders are worth at least fifty bucks cause people like them as paperweights. To be honest, it was my bad: if you are before a dishonest salesman and you take interest in something, he will double the price. Fifty bucks paperweights. Man, tell me where this kind of customers are, because it they’re paying this for a paperweight they would give a million for a Leica.

I got it, anyway. This camera was made in the post-war era in Spain (that means from the forties onwards), a grindingly poor and wretched country that banned the importation of practically everything. So, Spanish manufacturers would corner local markets without great products. With junk, basically, and this was a paradigmatic example. Now we are at the very opposite end of the deal: everyone is allowed to sell here, no matter if it’s stuff made by slaves in some other country where we don’t see how they drown in their own sorrow and pain. I have to tell you: I’m sick of us all.

Back to the Argos, this camera was sold by OsmiaService, which before the war had been the official distributor of Univex cameras in Spain, selling Univex cameras manufactured locally. Even when OsmiaService’s agreement with Universal expired, them happy spaniards kept using their name without license, because, what the fuck, our nazi allies, half-gods as they were, were going to win the war anyway, and after that, who was going to enforce US intellectual property? The two first versions of the Argos were called Única III and Única IIIa, just like real models of Univex designed cameras were called in the local market. I don’t know for sure why the last model was rechristened Argos.

Few units would have been made, all with shoddy quality and abysmal design. It is very provable that their owners simply disposed of them once they had the opportunitty to get something better. Thus, this is a very rare camera, a jewel for a collector. In the 1940’s few pawn shops would have taken them, now they’re rarities. I don’t wan’t to understand this world no more.

And yes, it is for sale.

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Junior did

Yes, I took this with an SX-70

Here it is. Look at it, for this is the camera that definively made Leica… an underdog in the selling charts. Who’s to blame? Junior. Ludwig Leitz, Ernst Leitz’s son, was really full of himself  In Junior’s eyes, ‘flex’ cameras were a trend that wouldn’t last: real men shot rangefinders. Now it’s not the fifties anymore, and we know what happened next. The Leicaflex shows the strong bias towards rangefinders in Wetzlar: they tried to design a SLR that was as little a common-lore-reflex as it could be.
In may ways, it reminds me of the first Contax I: a gorgeous camera with innovative features, just the wrong innovative features. But at least Zeiss made the wonderful Contax II immediately, so…
Besides, guys at Wetzlar failed to implement features that were common at the time, like TTL measuring or interchangeable prisms. If you are one of those who still say that this was made to prevent dust from entering the viewfinder, you are a fool with capital F. Had those people known what they were doing, they would have used interchangeable prisms, or at least a prism wouldn’t be fogged by its own natural glue over time.

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EVIL MF

It is just glorious that a medium format system has less flange than a 110 one

This mirrorless thing has really gone way further than I predicted in the first place. We said it last week: a pythoness of the digital market Baron I is not. I really thought that the MILC developers would linger much more with unexciting small frame models, even smaller than APS-C which it is way too small to be taken seriously.

Size matters more than ladies would ever admit. Those who, with the purpose of making you buy a digital camera, take you people for idiots often say that small sensors have more depth of film than larger ones and thus it is more difficult to achieve a nice ‘3d effect’ (or ‘defocussing’ or whatever they call it) with a small sensor. This is utterly false. There really is no need to lie to people; I’ve personally seen a salesman in one of the biggest photo stores in my area that ‘digital has more DOF than analog’. That’s outrageous.

What larger sensors actually do is using longer lenses to achieve the same angles of view. Longer lenses lead to less DOF. Less DOF leads to more extreme defocussing. And more extreme defocussing leads to the Dark Side. Wait, no. it actually leads to the photographic Canaan: a land flowing with milk and honey. Some folks say that the very concept of bokeh was invented by Japanese salesmen in order to sell faster and more expensive lenses, but I have an idiotic fondness for extreme defocussing that only larger formats can fulfill. As any infomercial on mechanical penis enlargers would confirm, big is better.

And you know what, Fuji is releasing a camera that has a sensor for days, 1.7 times bigger than a FF; and Hasselblad recently released another digital medium format system with a sensor of similar size. I’m normally not too amused at digital gizmoes hitting the market, but these cameras have a feature that touches my little black heart: a ridiculously short flange distance. This enables medium format mirrorless cameras (MFMILC? MFEVIL? I like more MFEVIL cause it looks like it reads ‘motherfucking evil’ and I have a sense of humor like that of a 13 year old) to use lenses from any other medium format camera system and I would really love to attach an 80mm f2 Norita lens on one of them. Heck, you could even put a Leica M lens on them and it would be able to achieve infinity focus. Before you laugh at how idiot I am and telling me on the comments box that this would be pointless because it will vignette, take into account that you can crop them to full frame (which is a peculiar concept itself) in PS and you still would have zillions of pixels in your pic, so for the price of one of them you will be able to use any 35mm or medium format lens you could imagine.

I have to admit it: digital cameras are getting more interesting. Maybe there will be one day in which digital will beat film. But this won’t happen tomorrow.

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Instant success

You pronounce it ree-RA koo-MA

I’ve been commenting it in both instagram and twitter these days, and maybe there’s not that much to it than what it is, but I keep perplexed at the fact that, according to data provided by them, the most sold camera at Amazon this Xmas was the Fuji Instax Mini, and at the moment of writing this post, still is. If this is true, this is mindblowing.

Before you guys go three hoorays for the analog revival and crack open your Dom Perignon bottles, please take into account that this is no hard data (because Amazon doesn’t provide these) and that, if it is true, there might be a number of factors influencing it besides a surge of interest on instant photography. This said, it is undeniable that them guys at Fujifilm have been doing their homework extra hard. They really trusted in a breed of photography that its own creators, Polaroid, thought as good as extinct and made a ton of cash out of it. Good for them and for us, analog afficionadoes.

Continue reading Instant success

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Yellow is the new blue

Why do I see sexual references in everything? I need help

As you kids well know, the Baron has repeatedly exposed his viewpoint on the so called ‘analog revival’. Long story short: this revival exists only in the minds of those ensnared by Lomography’s marketing and some other misled beings. Analog photography has been losing ground uninterruptedly for more than a decade now. Before you throw the bathwater out with the baby: no, it doesn’t mean that analog photography will end tomorrow or in a decade, it just means that there are fewer of us that enjoy it. Rejoice, for there are only true believers left here, and all this.

But there are also some victories on our side. I’m talking about two recent events. First, it looks like the new Ferrania, an enterprise founded on the ashes of the old Italian film company, has been producing and testing film for a few months now and everything is going steadily. This is a HUGE success for the very serious, very enthusiastic, guys in its lead. Please go on.

Continue reading Yellow is the new blue

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China wares

Isn’t it great when you see how bad you screwed composition after developing? KILL ALL HUMANS

If I tell you I have a nice camera made in China you will say ‘so what’. Yes, now everything is made in the Unpopular Republic of China  by workers paid peanuts while factories keep closing in the West. For the powers that be it’s win-win. For 99.9999% people in this wretched world, it’s a disaster of biblical proportion. Before 2000 the made in China label carried an aura of exoticism, as it was almost unknown here in the West. Back in the day, made in China was so freakin cool.

Continue reading China wares

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Internets beware: here be chrome & leather

We can finally announce that we have gone online with our own store. Finally Camera Store Barcelona is its own man in the Internets. We will keep our presence in ebay, and I will try to mislead you to our ebay store as often as ever, but now we also have our own thing. Migrating our store has been a lot of effort, but the sight of so much leather & chrome really eased it all a lot.
Of course, I’m inviting you to check our new store out, here at our site. And I’m just inviting you, which is quite mild, because my lawyers told me that installing a plugin that went apeshit and spamming pop-ups would have undesired legal consequences. The consequences will never be the same, said a philosopher. Yes, we are proof that rehab from 4chan works in some cases.
On the serious side now, as you can see, we’ve gone nuts and are offering insane discounts, up to 30 to celebrate we’re in the ‘nets. From now to the 19th, If you want to go and steal a shiny, shiny chromed gizmo from us, now it’s your chance.

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Shanghai GP3: Finitto. Zero. Nada

Not even old Soviet films are that expensive
Not even old Soviet films are that expensive

We haven’t seen any official announcement, which, on the other hand is quite normal for Chinese (AKA from the country without law) enterprises, but we can now surely say that the Shanghai GP3 120 film isn’t being made anymore. For a year and a half prices have been skyrocketing in the evilbay and other gray market sites to insane amounts, and finally, even the most obnoxious offers have ceased. Sold out. Sould out and not made anymore. The auction you see above is from an ebay post. They sold the last three rolls for 111 US dollars. This makes every roll 37 George Washingtons, which is in-fucking-sane. And even more if you take into account that this was notorious for being the cheapest 120 film around, both label and quality wise. And I loved it, GODDAMIT. This is a twilight moment for the Baron. Everything I love goes. Don’t get me to like you: the Cosmos will kill you just to piss me off.

Continue reading Shanghai GP3: Finitto. Zero. Nada

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Instant Auto. Take this, other large format cameras.

Look at the finder. Isn't it gorgeous?
Look at the finder. Isn’t it gorgeous?

If there were analog cameras that truly were another breed were the Polaroids. The reasons that they were totally different beasts from the far more common 35mm and medium format cameras lies in the much larger area that the polaroid had to expose; you see, for all effects, the Polas were large format cameras only that its negative (because all Polaroid film involved a negative, and the really clever ones didn’t show it to you) was used only once on a single contact print.

The fact that they were dumbified large format cameras amazes me. Dr. Land, the designer of all Polaroid cameras very much followed the path set up by designers of 6×9 folders that were the rage until the popularisation of the 35mm cinefilm format in the early 1930’s by Leica. If you take a look at the first Polas from the 1950’s, the similarities are obvious. The folding served more purposes than just coolness: it was intended for portability. See, the exposure area being larger meant that the focal distance of the lenses involved had to be in proportion; this made for very large cameras, and here’s where the folding shines: it could be collapsed into the body when not in use and it was much lighter than any other alternative. With time, the designs were more and more simplified in order to cut costs and being able to sell the cameras for cheaper. What you see above, the Type 80, was an involution on the concept: it simply got rid of the bellows and changed it for rigid thermoplastic integrated into the film compartment; with setting operable from the both the body and the fixed lensboard.

Continue reading Instant Auto. Take this, other large format cameras.